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In Commonwealth v. Dorazio, decided this week, the SJC addressed the issue of the admissibility of evidence from a past incident which resulted in the acquittal of the defendant. The court said, in part,

“As a matter of Federal constitutional law, collateral estoppel does not bar the government in a criminal prosecution from introducing evidence from a separate prosecution on unrelated charges in which the defendant was acquitted….

“In Dowling v. United States, 493 U.S. 342 (1990), the United States Supreme Court held that because of the different standards of proof, the introduction of so-called acquittal evidence did not violate the collateral estoppel component of the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution…

“Not all State courts follow the Supreme Court’s holding in Dowling….

“We find the thoughtful and extensive considerations enunciated in the dissenting opinion in Dowling to be instructive, and we conclude that the collateral estoppel protections necessarily embraced by art. 12 warrant the exclusion of the acquittal evidence in the circumstances of this case, a subsequent criminal proceeding involving alleged unlawful sexual conduct with minors…  State courts “are absolutely free to interpret [S]tate constitutional provisions to accord greater protection to individual rights than do similar provisions of the United States Constitution” (Emphasis added)

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